Collin McLeod / Daily Nexus

I transferred to UCSB last fall with a set of optimistic expectations for the people, atmosphere and, most importantly, food. Santa Barbara is a top tourist destination for people outside of California, so I imagined this lovely bubble of a city would be filled to the brim with some of the finest restaurants around and, to my delight, I was proven correct. Before I could explore the food scenery of Santa Barbara, however, I needed to explore Isla Vista and UCSB’s campus to see what I had to choose from. There was one place on campus that I avoided due to financial reasons, but after my first visit at the end of my first quarter, I realized I had made the biggest mistake of my whole life. The place was Root 217, the time was finals week and life would never be the same again. Little did I know, that day, I would be meeting the love of my life, spawning a new tradition with new friends.

At the end of my first quarter here at UCSB, I spent approximately nine hours studying at the Hub with some classmates thanks to the Hub’s extremely quiet atmosphere during finals week. At the end of the night, all of us were desperate for something to eat. We looked around at the selections that would have been available to us had it not been incredibly late: Panda Express, Wahoo’s and Subway. But on this evening, one restaurant stood open like a shining beacon of hope waiting to satisfy our hunger. Root 217 organic café shined like the brightest of Rihanna’s diamonds, begging us to walk up to the counter. I told my friends it would not be worth it, but, again, I was naïve and had no clue what I was talking about.

We were greeted by what seemed like the friendliest fast food cashier ever. He looked at us in our strung-out stupor and ever so eloquently asked us what we would like from their menu. To save a buck, all of us decided on their cookie ice cream sandwiches (because that is filling). The cashier walked out of the freezer with what seemed to be a halo over his head and handed us our snack. It was mint ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies. The first bite was nothing short of a symphony of sweetness: chocolate, mint and soft cookie goodness danced across our tongues as we thanked the holy patron saint of desserts for blessing us with this meal.

Since then, Root 217 has changed their cookie flavors twice. They transitioned from vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cookies to macadamia nut cookies with strawberry cheesecake ice cream. How do I know this, you ask? The group of people I was studying with and I bonded over our religious experience, and it became a part of the basis of our friendship. Now, whenever we have midterms or finals, we celebrate our studying and compensate for the emotional toll it takes on us by going to Root 217, stuffing ourselves with ice cream cookie sandwiches and heading over to C.A.P.S. to get massages. Hell, there are times during a regular week when we just do it; it is pretty therapeutic if you ask me.

So if you are curious about where you can find a sweet treat on campus that is more affordable than therapy, or are just curious about what types of food options you have on campus, check out Root 217 in the Hub and order an ice cream sandwich. While you are at it, bring some people along with you to bond with over it. You never know, they might just become some of your best friends.